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June 2005Vol. 6, No. 5How to Determine When Not to File a TPR Petition

Among the provisions of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 is the requirement that a petition for termination of a parent's rights be filed when a child has been in out-of-home care for 15 of the most recent 22 months. A few exceptions are permitted; one is when the State agency can document a compelling reason that termination would not be in the child's best interest.

Amid concern that the "compelling reason" exception has been overused, the Child and Family Services Agency of the District of Columbia asked the Center for the Study of Social Policy to review the situation across the country and develop recommendations. The resulting paper, Criteria and Procedures for Determining a "Compelling Reason" Not to File a TPR: Discussion Paper and Approved Recommendations, looks at the laws, policies, and practices of several States. It provides criteria for making a "compelling reason" determination and outlines a process for documenting and reviewing those determinations. The paper is available at (PDF - 122 KB).